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London bus drivers vote to strike over Metroline’s controversial ‘remote sign-on’ policy

MORE than 4,000 London bus drivers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over a much criticised remote sign-on policy, Unite announced today.

A total of 96 per cent of Metroline West and 97 per cent of Metroline Travel Unite members voted for industrial action on routes in north and west London, the union confirmed.  

Following the ballot, Unite warned that strike dates would soon be confirmed if the company did not drop the policy, which sees drivers not reporting to a depot but meeting their bus elsewhere, such as at a bus stop. 

Metroline has only “paused” its introduction of the practice after Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan instructed bosses at Transport for London last month to introduce an immediate moratorium on the policy until detailed research into its implications could be completed.

Unite pointed out that forcing drivers to start work away from depots was designed to reduce costs, with staff also facing a lack of toilet and canteen access, increased working hours and waiting for buses in unpredictable weather.

Regional officer Mary Summers said it was “very disappointing” that the company had not ruled out introducing the policy despite Mr Khan’s order.

“[London] bus drivers have delivered a massive mandate for strike action. This unpopular policy should be jettisoned immediately,” she demanded.

A Metroline spokesperson said remote sign-on provided “flexibility” while “reducing fatigue and helping improve work-life balance.”

It would only be introduced where suitable facilities such as toilets and hot and cold water were available, they added.

“We remain open to talks with Unite and call upon them to respect the moratorium to allow for an independent and unbiased report.”

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